Columbia University agreed to pay $9.5 million to resolve charges it violated the False Claims Act for improperly seeking and receiving excessive cost recoveries in connection with research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the government, Columbia impermissibly applied its “on-campus” indirect cost rate, instead of the much lower “off-campus” indirect cost rate, when seeking federal reimbursement for 423 NIH grants where the research was primarily performed at off-campus facilities owned and operated by the State of New York and New York City. The government further alleged Columbia failed to disclose to NIH that it did not own or operate these facilities and that Columbia did not pay for use of the space for most of the relevant period. The allegations originated with a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblower will receive a yet-to-be-determined whistleblower award from the proceeds of the government’s recovery. DOJ (SDNY)
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